on a son’s 13th birthday
Before my daughters I hold an ornament,
a clear plum on my open palm and cold—
though light breaks through its bubble shell
so that we see inside the sphere another
half its size, and inside that one, two or three
more cells glisten and divide.
Your brother must
have gone over twenty-nine miles per hour,
I tell his sisters. He wouldn’t ever do that! they rejoin.
Then how, I beg to know, could droplets form
alive inside this glass? Only when a child has gone
too fast. . .Wasn’t the limit
twenty-nine miles per hour?
In our muteness
the ornament darkens, beckons: Wait for word.
Horse clouds lower their flat-iron heads,
sweep the field with shadows where we stand.
JoAnn Balingit’s poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, Salt Hill, Smartish Pace, and Best New Poets 2007. Her chapbook, Your Heart and How it Works, is forthcoming from Spire Press. She was appointed Delaware’s poet laureate in May 2008: http://www.artsdel.org/services/poetlaureate.shtml. She lives in Newark.